In the framework of the “Fruits of Ethology” guest talk series we will have the pleasure to welcome our next speaker, Beata Oborny (Dept. Plant Taxonomy, Ecology and Theoretical Biology, Loránd Eötvös University).
Date: 20th February, Thursday, 4pm
Location: ELTE, South Building, 7.110, Pázmány Péter sétány 1/c
Title: The plant in the labyrinth: foraging strategies in plants
Plants can solve amazingly difficult tasks while adjusting their growth to the environment. Many kinds of natural habitats are labyrinth-like on the spatial scale of individuals, providing only partial information about the places of resources, and thus, about the promising directions of growth from each point. In spite of this limited access to information and the limited set of responses, experiments have demonstrated that some species are very efficient in exploring and exploiting resources. One of the keys to understanding the foraging behavior of plants is their modular construction. I review some experiments which show how the the production, functional specialization, and death of modules enable the plant to adjust its growth to the environment. This adjustment is strongly influenced by the flow of information and resources among the modules. I present some characteristic “plant dilemmas”, and the corresponding main strategies. We studied the performance of these strategies in various environments by means of spatially explicit, dynamic models. The results show that cooperation between the modules is not a necessary condition for successful foraging; in some habitats, the lack of cooperation is more advantageous. This suggest an explanation for the frequent occurrence of clonality in plants.
Márta Gácsi & Ádám Miklósi